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All lies:)

> However, last weekend, I added 1/4 tsp. KNO3, resulting in about 5 mg/l on
> NO3 in the water.  I might be imagining things but two days later there
> seems to be less algae strings flowing in current.  Something is using up
> the NO3 because the test detected less than 5 mg/l.  So I added another 1/4
> tsp KNO3 to get between 5 to 10 mg/l of N03.

This is clear evidence of plant useage. Try adding more of everything beside
just NO3 now. You use up one, only to chase another nutrient in many cases.
Good thing is that if you have some residual or pick one nutrient to keep
low, you can have a nice flexible range of nutrient levels and no algae with
good plant growth.
> Could it be that Tom Barr and Kathy Randall and the rest of the gurus are
> correct and that you need nitrates to help the plants outcompete the algae??
> I'm keeping a hopeful eye on things!

I think you mean Karen Randall and or Cathy Hartland:) Both extremely good
plant people.

Adding 5 mls of TMG weekly is not much TMG BTW. I add that 3 times weekly to
20 gallon tank. And PO4. Adding a 1/4 teaspoon (KNO3) to your 50 gallon tank
2x times a week should take care of most of your problems. Doing weekly
water changes will also remove any build up that may occur.  This is true
for all the nutrients so it's plain old good practice. Big water changes
with tap water and build the stuff up based on its content. This requires
less testing and good results. It's not that bad:)
Observe if you add an 1/8 gram of PO4 to your tank. Watch what happens.
Check out the references on www.sfbaaps.com. SF water is quite similar to
yours. Also, many of them have been trying out more rich nutrient mixes with
good results. Less algae more colors etc.

Testing for usage will elucidate you. Most that are doubtful or believe
other magic myths often do not test:)

You do not "have to" test all the time to keep up on this is more my point.
You can do it without testing so much but go through at least a few times to
figure out what your tank is :really: doing. Then you figure out how much to
add based on an average weekly usage, figure out how much you need to add to
your make up water and add it. Test when you get a problem etc.

Tom Barr